Wednesday, August 2, 2017

My Speechless Guru: An Ode to Bolt

She sat at the ledge of my bed, looking at me eagerly, wanting my attention. I was on my laptop struggling with some deadline.  I stole a glance and there I saw her moist eyes as if she wanted to say something to me. I got back to my work and suddenly I heard her “woof” - desperately seeking my attention. I left my work - I usually don’t do that. My son says I am always busy.

I sat up. She inched closer.
I loosened my hand. She perked up.
I moved closer. She began licking my hand.

I knew what she wanted.

She was with us only for the last 20 days. Her life before that is a mystery. I named her bolt for a number of reasons. When we found her abandoned outside our office she had a deep wound on her back - as if she was struck by lightning. She had a broken leg, which was alway bent upwards - resembling a bolt of lightning. And when she ran - she could put Usain Bolt to shame.

She wanted love. She wanted me to scratch her neck.

We live amongst humans, our children, parents, spouse. How many times do we look at them and consider loving them a little bit more, appreciating them for what they do. How many times do we look at their eyes to know what they expect from you.

Honestly, it takes a speechless animal to teach you how to read signs, eyes and expressions.

It was 4:30am in the morning. I heard some noise. I heard someone clearing their throat. I thought it was my son who was suffering from flu. I woke up and saw bolt struggling. She looked towards me. I could barely see her expression in the dark but I knew she was uncomfortable. I comforted her. She puked some bile. I comforted her further. She looked at me with guilt as if she was ashamed of it. She ducked her head between her paws. After a while, I went to get a rag to clear the excrete. While I was at it, she licked my hand. She knew that I was in control. I was taking care of things - but was I? Was I really in control?

Are we ever in control of anything? World is an illusion and to think that we are in control is just plain stupidity. The world is just what we imagine it to be. If we imagine it to be good - it is good. If we imagine to be mean - it is mean. If you think you can bring about a change - it is your imagination because you are never in control of anything.  

On day 1 she was docile, she wouldn’t even bark. She was badly injured and so dirty that the vet himself got his minions to examine her. I remember the sight. I remember the vet washing his hands. I mentally timed it. It was for a good 5 minutes. He squeezed out the liquid soap at least 4 times. He rubbed his fingers on one hand between the fingers of the other. His expressions spoke disgust. I kept calm. I got Bolt vaccinated, sprayed with anti-fungal spray and left for home. We did not bring her inside the house. Left her sleeping in the porch.

The next morning, we bathed her, removed her ticks and gave her the medicines. My wife diligently followed the routine of giving her the medicines on time. A week passed by. My son was enthusiastic of getting Bolt some toys and playing with her, my father began taking Bolt for morning walks, my mother who was not very comfortable about having a dog in the house because of her work, began warming up to her. My son tried his best to make Bolt play with a ball but she wouldn't.

She would howl till 2:00am. She wanted something more. She wanted in. She wanted to be with us inside the house. So one day, while my mother was out for dinner, my son, my wife and I sneaked her into our room. She was hesitant at first. I had to actually lift her up and get her inside. She stayed for a few minutes and she then wanted to go out. And when the lights were off and everyone was about to retire to bed, she howled again. This went on for a couple of days till she finally decided to settle in. She found a corner in our room and became our room-mate.

My wife is a professional storyteller. She likes to tell stories. She talks stories and can narrate them to anyone - even a dog. She had found a new audience. She began treating Bolt like her own daughter - telling stories, loving her, taking her for her morning walks. But Bolt, still would not like to play with a ball. No matter how my my wife and son insisted.

Bolt was on her way to recovery. We felt in control. But are we ever?

My wife took out time from her busy day to take Bolt for an evening walk too. I took out time to accompany them. My son left his games to run after her in the park. My brother, who is an online shopaholic ordered some chewy sticks for her. And since she was in now - she would side besides my wife while we would sit on the dining table eating our food. My father would crib less about the food and observe her more. My mother would now giggle as Bolt would attempt to lick her legs or enter the forbidden zone - her kitchen. She made us all come closer for a purpose. She made us all focus on her.

One morning my wife was walking Bolt in our society. An old gentleman walked past them. He observed Bolt’s leg. He inquired about the leg. My wife narrated the story of the abandoned dog. I guess her narrative moved the old man. He left by blessing my wife and the dog and saying that in this world where children don’t care about aging parents, where humans leave other humans dying on the road it is commendable that you are taking care of speechless living being who was abandoned by someone who probably did not want her because of her injuries.

An average human being spends about 40-50 years of his life, caring passionately for their children. They want the best for them. They want to get them all that there is in the world. They want to put their children on the right path. They want to be in control or rather they want to feel that they are in control. But are they?

The next morning my wife was on her morning walk with Bolt. She looked around her. It was like a scene from what she had read in the Mahabharata. It was a Chakravyuh. An army of dogs had encircled both of them. My wife swallowed her spit out of fear. Bolt, who was a german spitz, barely a feet tall got all courageous to take on 8 dogs at least 3 times her size. They hadn’t a chance. Soon, they heard someone banging a stick on the ground and shouting “Hut! Hut! Hut!”. It was the same old man who had come to the rescue. He advised my wife to carry a stick to keep the stray dogs away. The old man thought he had saved the day. He thought he was in control - but was he?

My wife narrated the incident to my father. The next day my father handed over a wooden stick carved out of teak wood to which looked like a batton of a British policeman. The batton become a part of our walking ritual. Now it was Bolt, me, my wife, my son, my son’s didi, my father, my two drivers who would take turns around the clock to take her for a walk. On one hand they would have the leash and on the other the batton.

For the first time, things seemed to peaceful at home. There were no fights between family members, no bickering amongst the drivers. It was as of Bolt had struck us with an arrow. She now had a routine.
She would attempt to pick up the newspaper in the morning for my father but tear almost half of it. My father remarked, “She’ll get trained to bring me the newspaper, soon.”

The milkman would come in next and she would scare him away - barking like there is no tomorrow. He thought, “She’ll get used to me soon and stop barking.”

The gardner would come in next. He would water the garden and would be about to leave. She would “woof” at him once, head towards the pit and dig out the mud and then look at him. Almost conveying,”Hey! You’re still not done.” The gardner would pick up the mud and smile at her thinking, “One day she’ll stop doing this.”

My driver would speed into the porch with his bike. She would perk up. She recognises him. He was the one who gave her the first ride to the vet. He spent considerable amount of time with her. He pet her, loved her, removed her ticks whenever he was free. He told my wife, “She was about to die. You saved her. She is going to recover soon and be white as snow and fit as a fiddle.”

This morning I saw Bolt in the porch sleeping. She looked frail. Thought she was recovering from her morning projectile. I went to her and said, “Bye Bolt, I will see you in the evening. Recover soon so that I can take you to office with me.”

My wife and I were in the office when we got a call from our son who said, “Please come home. Bolt is not feeling well. She is making a very sad face and she is very still.” We took Bolt to the Vet. The doctor was not there. We called him and he shouted saying that give me some time to react. Get your dog checked by my attendants in the meanwhile. The attendants, gave some oxygen. Bolt revived, puked and passed out. The attendants asked to get an injection which took forever to procure. The attendants gave CPR but in vain. The attendants failed to put the drip. Almost 2 hours later, the attendants declared Bolt dead. There was silence. With a heavy heart I asked the attendants, how much do I have to pay for their effort. One said nothing. The other said, “Sir, is coming in 10 minutes.” I waited for the doctor. I waited to see his face. I wanted to see the face of the man who I thought was in control. I wanted to see the face of the man who think he is in control of illnesses and pets. He walked in, looked at me.
He said, “She is dead.”
I said, “ I know.”
There was silence. He then began lecturing on how the dog was sick and needed to be taken care of.
I said, “How much.”
He said, “300”

My wife was in tears. She was shaken. She called up son and broke the news.
She said, “We are going to bury Bolt. Would you like to come.”
There was silence on the other end for a couple of seconds.
He said, “No. I am busy playing.”

Our entourage consisting of 2 drivers, me, my wife, my brother found a peaceful spot for Bolt. Dug up the ground and put her to rest peacefully. Her head was ducked between her paws as if she was peacefully sleeping on the ledge of my bed.

We returned home. Walked up to my son who I felt was struggling to share his emotions. He wanted to play with me and I said I would. I engaged with him on a game with Battleship. After scraping a win over him, I asked, “Why did you not come to bury Bolt? Won’t you miss her?”
He said, “I will miss her.”
Me: “So, why did you not come?”
Him: “Because I was busy playing.” He pauses for a bit, “Anyway she was sick.”
Me: “So when I die will you not come to see me?”
Him: “If I am busy with work, then I might not. Isn’t work important?”
My Wife: “And what if I die?”
Him: “I will definitely come.”

After a couple of minutes.

Him: “Mom, I want a dog. White in color. I will name it Bolt. She can stay with me.”

He ducked his head under a pillow. I knew what he was feeling. I said, “Let’s go an play something.” He got up and headed towards his playroom. While opening his cupboard, one of the doors brush against his nose. He began to cry. In the next 30 minutes he found 3 reasons to cry.

While putting him to bed, my wife said, “Let’s pray for Bolt.”
He said, “And for me also. I got hurt so many times.”

After the prayer he said: “Mom, I want a dog. White in color. I will name it Bolt. She can stay with me.”

Bolt on her last day was very playful. She even played with a ball. She came and went from our lives like lightning, leaving a hole in our hearts forever.

In 15 days Bolt taught me to value time, relationships and my purpose which clearly is a journey to nothingness. She has left me today with a thought: How can we have purpose when we aren’t in control of anything? Can we ever be satisfied with anything when it is just an imagination in this world of illusions? And when everything is an imagination how can we be focused because a person with a good imagination will always imagine more. Imagination isn’t constant. Only the end of it is.  

I hear her bark now. She is at the porch. Wants me to let her in.

“Our material, intellectual and emotional territories that we jealously guard, whose loss makes us insecure, is no different from the bone of a dog. We cling and fight over it, until the day we die. And when we die and our bodies reach the crematorium, we find there an inebriated Bhairava seated on a dog laughing at us for a life wasted in a futile pursuit.”- Devdutt Pattanaik, Kal Bhairav’s Dog